Electronic document management (EDM) is the capture, storage, management, and control of electronic document images for the purposes of supporting management decision making and facilitating business event data processing. Capturing and storing document images typically relies on the digital image processing approaches discussed earlier in the chapter. The added dimensions of management and control are critical to maintaining the physical security of the documents while at the same time assuring timely distribution to users requiring the information. Technology Application 4.1 discusses some general uses of EDM.
In general, business applications of EDM fall into two categories:
- Document storage and retrieval.For example, mortgages, deeds, and liens are archived and made available to the public for such uses as title searches.
- Business event data processing.For example, loan and insurance applications must pass through several stages, such as origination, underwriting, and closing. The EDM system can manage the workflow and route the documents to the appropriate people—even if these people are geographically dispersed.
Technology Application 4.1
General Uses of Electronic Document Management Systems
The push to improve crime investigation time and accuracy, in an effort to let fewer criminals escape from the vicinity of the crime, has led to one of the biggest EDM networks to date. In August 1999, the FBI unveiled a $640 million fingerprint system that allows fingerprint scans to be compared from the cars of police officers through connection to the central EDM repository. Prior to the implementation of the new system, law enforcement agencies, security firms, child-care organizations, and other entities requiring background checks would mail more than 50,000 fingerprints to the FBI each day. Specialists would then spend months trying to match the submitted fingerprints to some 34 million cards with an average of 10 fingerprint images each. The new system digitizes the fingerprint images to make them available for electronic comparison. The rapid access to fingerprint images coupled with the ability to do electronic comparisons should vastly reduce the number of arrested individuals who are released before their fingerprints have been reviewed and tied to past criminal activities.
European companies use EDM to cut the cost of filing regulatory documents, a practice expected to grow 42% per year over a five-year period. Certainly driving this growth has been the integration of Internet capabilities for distribution of electronic images along with recent developments that enable integrated storage of voice and video clips as well. The European trend also includes increased use of laser disk storage for faster retrieval of document images coupled with high levels of storage capacity. Finally, EDM is being perceived as a key enabler for evolving knowledge management endeavors (see Chapter 5), as much of the knowledge captured in such systems is document based. Sources: Gary Fields, “FBI Digitizes Fingerprint System Today,” USA Today (August 10, 1999): 1A; Jana Sanchez-Klein, “Europeans Tap Document Management to Compete,” Computerworld Online (December 23, 1998).
EDM systems provide a relatively inexpensive alternative to paper documentation. The ability to access and manipulate real images of business documents offers great opportunities for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of many business applications and can create significant competitive advantages for an organization. For instance, fast access to imaged documents often can translate into faster and better customer service and result in increased customer loyalty—themes we explore in some depth in Chapter 10. The typical benefits include:
- Reduced cost of handling and storing paper.
- Improved staff productivity.
- Wider use of geographically distributed virtual teams.
- Superior customer service.
- Enhanced management of operational workflow.
- Faster processing.
Explain the advantages of using electronic document management rather than traditional paper-based document systems.